Unfortunate news for today. Nora Ephron, the essayist, author and filmmaker who challenged and thrived in the male-dominated worlds of movies and journalism and was loved, respected and feared for her wit, died on Tuesday of leukemia. She was 71. As a screenwriter, Ephron was nominated three times for Academy Awards, for “Silkwood,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” and was the rare woman to write, direct and produce Hollywood movies. Meryl Streep, who starred in thee Ephron classics, “Silkwood” and “Heartburn” (as a writer) and “Julie & Julia,” (as a director) noted that her interests and intellect touched on all subject matters. “Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, ‘Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?’ ” Streep said. “You could call on her for anything: doctors, restaurants, recipes, speeches or just a few jokes, and we all did it, constantly. She was an expert in all the departments of living well.”

Thirty-two years after Azaria Chamberlain, 9 weeks old, disappeared from a campsite in Australia, the coroner in the fourth inquest into her death announced on Tuesday that the baby died as a result of being taken by a dingo, an Australian wild dog. The ruling signified the end of three decades of struggle for the Chamberlain family. At first, Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was convicted of murdering her daughter and was sent to prison. That verdict was later overturned and Ms. Chamberlain set free, but subsequent inquests were unable to reach a determination on how Azaria died, despite growing evidence that Ms. Chamberlain was truthful in her statement that a dingo was responsible for the death at the campsite in central Australia. The coroner, Elizabeth Morris, with tears in her eyes, addressed the Chamberlain family in a courtroom in Darwin, Australia. “Please accept my sincere sympathies on the death of your special daughter,” Ms. Morris said. “I am so sorry. Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child.” She said of Azaria, “The cause of her death was the result of being taken by a dingo.” The death of Azaria and the arrest and conviction of her mother became an international saga with the making of the 1988 movie “A Cry in the Dark,” in which Meryl Streep played Ms. Chamberlain. The full article can be read at the New York Times.

Christopher Walken, Raúl Esparza, Jeffrey Wright, Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Stiller and Sam Waterston will join previously announced stars Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline for the Public Theater’s one-night-only benefit reading of Romeo and Juliet. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, the June 18 gala celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Jeanine Tesori will compose original music for the performance, which also honors Shakespeare in the Park veteran Al Pacino. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park officially opened on June 18, 1962 with a production of The Merchant of Venice. Directed by Public Theater founder Joe Papp and Gladys Vaughn, the production featured then-unknown actors George C. Scott and James Earl Jones. Over the past 50 years more than five million people have enjoyed more than 100 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte. This year’s Shakespeare in the Park season will include productions of As You Like It and Into the Woods.

These days, lots of panels and parties are held to raise interest in the Broadway shows nominated for a Tony. Among them is Mike Nichols’ “Death of a Salesman”, produced by Scott Rudin and starring Philip Seymour Hofman. A discussion panel on the play, which has held yesterday, was hosted by Meryl Streep. Here’s more informtion courtesy the New York Post: The press wasn’t admitted. The Broadway League has some silly bugaboo about press coverage of the roadies. I suppose the League fears we might find out just how shaky the road is these days, what with so many mediocre shows flying around out there. Ted Chapin, chairman of the American Theatre Wing, was announced as the moderator. But – surprise, surprise! – Meryl Streep came onstage to a five-minute standing ovation. (Rudin’s produced several of her movies, including “Doubt” and “The Hours.”) Streep moderated the panel and asked some pointed and insightful questions. She wondered, for instance, if any of the actors ever “steal” from other actors, adding: “I do all the time, but only from men!” Of Nichols she said: “There have been many times, Mike, in our working relationship when I wished I were Diane Sawyer. But never more so than now.” Hoffman admitted that playing a role such as Willy Loman takes over your life. “You wake up, you’re Willy Loman,” he said. “You go to lunch, you’re Willy Loman. You go to dinner, you’re Willy Loman. You’re Willy Loman all the time.” To prevent the play from taking over their lives completely, Garfield told the crowd, the cast goes out every night after the show to “reconnect.” Nichols said he swings by the theater at least once a week to see the play. “Very often you have to do what I call ‘killing babies,’” he said. “You have to take an actor aside and say, ‘You know that part where you come in and say, “Hello,” and then pirouette around the stage? I think you should go back to just saying “Hello.”’ I don’t have to do that with this cast.” I’m told every single road voter attended the “Salesman” event, which should sew it up nicely for the show on Tony night. Many thanks to Glenn and Holly for the heads-up.

Forbes has released its annualy Celebrity 100 List of the world’s most powerful celebrities, and Meryl is among them. The full list can be found on their website. Here’s what they wrote about Meryl: The most nominated actress of all time, Streep won her third Academy Award this year for The Iron Lady a biopic about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the age of 62, Streep has an enviable career. She works consistently and balances smaller, award-worthy films with more mainstream fare like Hope Springs. Thanks to Christopher for the heads-up.

Cast your votes for the leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes that you think are the most influential people in the world. Official voting ends on Friday, April 6, and the poll winner will be included in the TIME 100 issue. The complete TIME 100 list will be chosen by our editors and revealed on TIME.com on Tuesday, April 17. Cast your vote here. Thanks to Mary and Zaw for the heads-up! Below is what TIME Magazine wrote about Meryl:

Streep received a record 17th Oscar nomination and her third win in 2012 for her performance in The Iron Lady. In her acceptance speech, she joked, “When they called my name … I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh, no — her again?’ But whatever.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Sure, she’s the go-to dramatic actress of our time. But as a screen chameleon who only gets better with age, Streep continues to dazzle and inspire.

Another fine example of using your celebrity power to raise word on an important subject matter. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood support is growing to overturn the R rating for language that was assigned to Lee Hirsch’s documentary “Bully”. Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film in New York City on March 20, and Johnny Depp has offered his help. The Weinstein Co. releases “Bully”, about the bullying epidemic in the U.S. schools, in theaters March 30. “Bully” has galvanized a national movement, since the very audience it was made for will be restricted in seeing it. Michigan high school student Katy Butler, a victim of bullying, started a petition that has been signed by 300,000 people. On Capitol Hill, more than 20 lawmakers have signed a bipartisan letter to the MPAA urging that the rating be overturned. And on Tuesday, Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted that she too supports lowering the rating to PG-13. It’s unusual to have lawmakers asking that a rating be lowered. I recommend you to watch the trailer on Youtube. Thanks to Glenn for the heads-up!

It has been mentioned before, now it’s officially confirmed that Meryl will be among the 2011 Kennedy Center Honorees. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors announced the five cultural icons whose creative work will be celebrated at this year’s event airing Tuesday, Dec. 27 on CBS. Actress Meryl Streep, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins and singer Barbara Cook are this year’s recipients. “This year, the Kennedy Center selects five extraordinary individuals whose collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” says Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Further he says in the article, “The sheer brilliance and breadth of Meryl Streep’s performances count as one of the most exhilarating cultural spectacles of our time.”

Meryl Streep has released a statement from the Connecticut set of “Great Hope Springs”, according to The New York Times.

I am deeply honored by this news, and wish my mother and father were alive to hear it! All that education, allowance, tuition, voice lessons, summer jobs, scholarship application deadlines and loving care and discipline – all that they gave me, bore fruit in a way they never dreamed. I am so grateful!